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Chemistry is involved in everything that makes up our world. The life processes of all organisms involve chemical changes. Chemists play a key role in the development of drugs, which are helping to cure and alleviate diseases and prolong life. Chemists are involved in biochemistry and genetic engineering. They are actively involved in environmental issues, and are helping to tap new sources of energy to replace the earth’s finite reserves of petroleum.

The Department of Chemistry offers a wide range of courses from the introductory level to the doctoral level. Undergraduate courses are designed for students planning careers in chemistry, medicine, business, and other professions, and for students taking chemistry as part of the foundation for another discipline. Faculty members serve as both scientists and teachers, bringing to the classroom the results and excitement of their research. Because of this dual emphasis, students are made aware of the latest developments in the field.

The curriculum is approved by the American Chemical Society for the training of professional chemists. For advanced students, there are University fellowships available to provide a stipend while doing research during the summer. Many of our undergraduates have had their research published in world-renowned chemistry journals. Vanderbilt offers exciting state of the art research facilities to students interested in chemistry. The department is fully equipped with modern chemical instrumentation, including NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, x-ray diffractometry, microscopy, chromatography, and computational facilities

Recently Offered Courses

Chemistry courses are offered in the areas of analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry with a special emphasis on emerging cross-discipline sciences. Introductory courses, survey courses and specialized lecture and laboratory courses are also taught. Some recent examples include: Introduction to Bioorganic Chemistry; Instrumental Analytical Chemistry; Molecular Modeling Methods; Forensic Analytical Chemistry; Drug Design and Development; and Computational Structural Biochemistry.

Advanced Placement

Students with chemistry AP scores of 5 may opt to skip the first-year introductory chemistry sequence and begin their studies in organic chemistry. An organic chemistry course sequence specifically for freshmen with AP scores of 5 is offered.

Other Special Opportunities

Many chemistry majors are involved in the Student Members of the American Chemical Society. This group invites seminar speakers, organizes student-faculty picnics, participates in community outreach programs, visits industrial or research sites, and provides an opportunity to network with other students in chemistry or chemistry-related fields. Additionally, many students are also active in the Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science, a university initiated effort supporting primary and secondary Metro Nashville schools through science outreach programs. Undergraduate majors are encouraged to participate in faculty research projects and often receive their own laboratory space for study and research.

After Vanderbilt

A variety of career paths have been pursued by our students, including teaching, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and sales, chemical research and development, and graduate education in chemistry and chemical biology. Other career paths can be found in government and regulatory agencies including forensic chemistry laboratories, the military, and national laboratories. Chemistry provides a useful background for technical writing, consulting, public analysts, and patent law. Finally, chemistry provides an excellent background for careers in medicine and other health-related professions.


The Department of Chemistry is composed of faculty doing research at the interface of chemistry with other disciplines such as physics, medicine, engineering, and biology. Strong interdisciplinary interactions exist with the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education, the Vanderbilt Center for Structural Biology, and the Vanderbilt Center in Molecular Toxicology.


Adam K. List
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Chemistry
7562B Stevenson Center
Nashville, TN  37240
Phone: (615) 322-2861

Chemistry Website